Among other things, a brand includes your business's logo, color schemes, and how they're visually expressed in all communications — from ads and marketing materials, to signage and fleet vehicles, to even the way company employees are dressed.
When strategically designed and maintained, your brand can project an image of professionalism, help differentiate you from your competitors, attract new customers, and better position your company for bottom line success.
Two examples of continually buffed up and well communicated brands are Nike and its "speedy" swoosh logo, and Mercedes Benz and its silver, three-pointed star. When the Nike swoosh is seen in ads or on footwear, thoughts of performance enhancing athletic apparel are reinforced in a customer's mind—ready to surface when it's time to purchase such products.
Likewise, when the Mercedes silver star appears in marketing materials or as hood ornaments, immediate thoughts of luxurious automobiles with technical superiority enter a customer's mind.
Denise Lee Yohn, a brand-building expert who has served as a consultant to such companies as Sony, Dell, and Covad communications, says relevant and compelling brands can help counteract "the downward pull of a tough market by (allowing businesses) to sustain price premiums and higher margins… because its offerings are perceived to be differentiated and of higher value." Such brands, she adds, "must be more than a vision" and must help effectively communicate what a business does in order to have a positive impact.
Effective brands inevitably capture customer attention and project a desired business message, says Adam Soreff, Director of Marketing at UniFirst Corp., a provider of customized uniform and workwear programs to businesses throughout the U.S. and Canada.
"In today's post-recession era, buyers are intent on receiving maximum value for every dollar spent. They're also looking for clear differentiation for products and services when determining who they make their purchases from. And that's where good branding comes in. It helps create a more positive business image that leads to a higher degree of buying confidence and customer loyalty."
All branding should be consistent and be promoted wherever any aspect of a business' operations come in direct contact with customers. "But not all customer 'touch points' are created equal," Soreff says.
"Some play a more significant role in branding than others. For example, studies have shown that customers interacting with employees in branded uniforms perceive the business to be of a higher caliber and, as a result, they become more likely to buy from those particular businesses. Additionally, another recent study showed that staff clothed in custom branded uniforms can actually have a greater advertising impact on customers than even traditional roadside billboards."
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